July 11, 2008

Hancock: half-cocked

Caution: product may contain spoilers.

If you've seen the trailers for Hancock, you may have gotten the impression that it's primarily a comedy about a drunk superhero. They're not entirely misleading. The first 30 odd minutes are hip-hop backed episodes of drunk "heroics" by the reluctant, anger motivated "superhero" Hancock. It's a humorous, relatively fast paced, expletive-filled ride to the plot line and key characters.

Generally in superhero movies there's a turning point: Spider-Man deciding responsibility comes with power, or Batman embracing his fear in order to overcome it. These turning points often highlight human struggles and present superhuman results most of us wish were possible. Hancock, however, shows us what it would be like if we had those super powers and never grew as a person.

While Hancock does turn from drinking, shave, don a "hero suit," and change his theme music from hip-hop to classical, the underlying man changes little. Though he's a bit cleaner, he remains motivated by self-image and self-gratification. The director refers to this "redemption" as "a man looking to tap into a higher version of himself." If that's as good as it gets, perhaps he should look elsewhere.

This meager change of heart produces equally disappointing results: a single successful act of heroism, after which we learn Hancock's all too Grecian back story and meet his 3,000+ year old spouse (also the spouse of his only friend). From this point on the movie is distinctly Greek. Hancock and Angel have a deities' brawl in downtown LA, love-hate their way to the final climax, and end the movie with a happily ever polyandry.

I'm sure the movie means well; there's just no hero in it.

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